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Proposed change to Southington polling places prompts questions



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SOUTHINGTON — Town registrars are looking to change where residents vote to reduce lines and realign polling locations with new state house districts.

The plan includes closing the polling locations at DePaolo Middle School and The Tabernacle church. Town councilors, however, had reservations about closing DePaolo, a convenient voting location for residents of Spring Lake Village and others.

Republican Registrar August Palmer and Democratic Registrar Elaine Bedard presented the plan at last week’s Town Council meeting. Councilors will take up the matter again at next week’s meeting scheduled for Monday.

Shorter lines, better balance

Recent elections have shown an imbalance among voting districts, according to Palmer. While there are about 4,500 voters who can vote at Derynoski School, there are only 1,700 who would vote at The Tabernacle. Both had the same number of workers in recent elections, Palmer said. The new districts have a better balance of voters.

“There was always a line (at Derynoski). That’s not going to happen anymore,” Palmer said. “Our plan is to balance these districts the best we can.”

The town currently has 11 polling locations. Palmer wants them reduced to nine, allowing more workers per location and in some places more tables to process voters more quickly.

“We should eliminate lines, that’s what this is all about also,” he said.

DePaolo question

Chris Palmieri, a Democratic councilor, said he’d prefer to see other polling locations closed rather than the one at DePaolo Middle School.

“I have major concerns with closing a major school that’s very visible in the main part of town, versus Flanders (school) that’s tucked away in a neighborhood area,” he said. “If we are going to close a district, I can’t support closing a major voting district.” Palmieri is principal of DePaolo Middle School.

He said DePaolo is a convenient polling location for Spring Lake Village, a large senior residents’ housing development.

But Spring Lake Village is in the 81st House district and DePaolo is in the 30th House district. Palmer wants voters going to polling locations in their House districts. Having polling locations that include multiple districts has led to errors in the past, he said.

“That’s nothing but confusion,” Palmer said.

DePaolo is also an active school and Palmer said polling workers have had trouble scheduling set-up for elections due to games and other school activities.

Proposed locations

Bedard and Palmer’s plan includes nine polling locations. The 81st House district will have four districts, the 80th will have two, the 22nd House district will have one and the 30th district will have two.

As a part of General Assembly redistricting, there is no longer a portion of Southington in the 103rd district while the 22nd district expanded to include the northern part of town.

Democratic councilor Jack Perry questioned the elimination of two voting locations.

“Our town’s population has only increased, not decreased,” he said.

With fewer locations, Palmer said the town’s election department will be able to give better, faster service and keep polling places within the correct districts. In places where lines formed in previous elections, Palmer said more tables and more voter checkers could be added to speed voting by taking workers from underused locations.

“We’re trying to make the voting process a lot easier,” Palmer said.

jbuchanan@record-journal.com203-317-2230Twitter: @JBuchananRJ



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